The much awaited North West 200 is now underway in the stunning scenario of the northern coast of Ireland. Among the newcomers of the second most important road race in the world we find a very interesting and fast girl, Nadieh Schoots.
Twenty-seven years old from the Netherlands, Nadieh is now tackling her first international road race, that won’t be the only one during this season. Her debut at the North West 200 is going to be followed by the Ulster GP in August and, afterwards, maybe her dream will come true.
Determined and talented (don’t you dare talking about luck, though!), Nadieh Schoots turned her attention towards pure road races after a few years of short circuit racing (she even rode for Ian Lougher’s Team in British Superstock Championship). And the reason is absolutely fascinating, as she will explain herself.
Last year Nadieh competed in the IRRC with brilliant results: top tens, best newcomer (Horice), fastest lap (Schleiz Race 2), to name but a few. She is definitely making some heads turning in this “male-dominated” environment!
Nadieh is currently racing her ZX-10R Superstock Kawasaki at the North West 200, so watch out for the very fast number 45!
Which expectations do you have at the North West 200, your first International Road Race? Have you been there before as a spectator?
I’ve never been to the event as a spectator, so in many ways I have no idea what to expect, haha. I’m very well prepared though in terms of track knowledge and bike setup, it’s just a case of putting it all together in the first practice. The goal for my team and I is to be fastest newcomer this year, but we’ll have to see where we stand after day 1 on track.
Why did you choose road racing after years doing short circuit races?
I decided to work towards road racing in 2014, after re wachting “Closer To The Edge” and seeing the look in the Isle of Man TT racers’ eyes when they speak about riding there. Since then I’ve been working on my riding, to get to where I feel comfortable and confident on the roads. Last year I felt ready for IRRC, and now it’s time for the North West and Ulster GP. The IOMTT won’t be too far behind!
Is there any road racer who is helping you with advices for the North West and Ulster GP?
I’m lucky to know a handful of the fast guys, and my main man for advice is Peter Hickman. For me it makes a big difference to be able to ask the top racers (and teams) for any tips or tricks; it means I need less time to learn circuits, and my team is able to compare setup with the top bikes. Especially as newcomers this makes our lives a lot easier.
Which is your target after the NW200 and Ulster GP? I heard you are looking forward to be invited to the infamous Macau GP!
Yes! Competing in the Macau GP is my last big goal for this season, beyond certain results at NW200, Ulster GP, and in IRRC. As I’m a very precise rider, I know the Macau circuit would suit me very well. It would be amazing to get to race there this year already! After that I of course also want to race the TT, my first time will be in 2019 or 2020.
Have you got an everyday job or are you a professional rider?
A little bit of both, ha. I don’t make any money through racing yet, but definitely spend most of my time working on either rider or team owner responsibilities. I hope that throughout this year it will finally start paying off a bit, after doing the big international races.
How does it feel being a girl in road racing world, especially in IRRC where there are no other female riders?
It’s a little weird at times, especially the start of last year’s IRRC season. All the other riders only stared or asked to take a photo. It took until round 4 at Schleiz, when I finished 10th on a wet/drying track on slicks, that my team and I were finally proper embraced by the IRRC family. Now in the paddock it is normal, except I do think I get more invites to showers than most other riders, haha. Other than that, a lot of the time fans or the organization will assume one of my mechanics is the rider, instead of me. We joke about it now, but I hope in the future people will stop assuming that a woman involved in a race team is only the rider’s girlfriend.
You rode for ILR Team in BSB in the past, were you in touch with Ian Lougher and did he have a role in your decision to switch to road racing?
I did yes, in Superstock in 2016. It was my first season on the 1000, and my family, sponsors, and I thought it would be very valuable to ride for and learn from someone like Ian Lougher. It turned out I didn’t click well with Ian, and riding wise I would have been better off if we had spent our money on our own bike and done our own thing. It’s OK though, because I did learn a lot that year that made me a much better team owner. Ian had no role in my switch to road racing.
Is your bike a full Superstock or do you have some special parts for the Superbike races as well?
My bike is full Superstock, as it is a lot easier on my team to be able to keep the bike the same for all sessions. Hopefully in the future I will be able to run a proper Superbike alongside our Superstock machine at the international races, but for now this is perfect.
I think your life is not exactly like any other girl’s life; what do your friends think about your life’s choice of being a rider?
Well almost all of my friends I met through racing (or music, as musicians have a surprisingly similar lifestyle and outlook on life as racers), so they just think what I’ve decided to do is very cool. From my “normal” high school friends, I only have 1 left that I speak to regularly. We live completely different lives but find time to catch up a couple of times a year. Most people who aren’t into racing don’t understand why I put so much time into it, and why racing always comes first, so I’m very happy that she’s hanging in there with me!
Why “Not Dead Yet” on your helmet?
“Not Dead Yet” came about during the season I rode for ILR. In the winter when I signed for them, I was the happiest I’d ever been to that point – it was a dream come true! Though slowly but surely the dream came apart, the team wasn’t what I expected and I struggled a lot with that. To the point where I would be faster when I did a trackday on my own using old tires, than when I was with the team in BSB qualifying on new tires. I felt stuck. Then I heard a song by Frank Turner, called Get Better, and the lyrics are “we can get better, because we’re not dead yet”. This inspired me to take responsibility, make the most of what the team could offer me, and find the advice and atmosphere I needed somewhere else in the BSB paddock. BSB at Knockhill was the first race I approached with this mindet, and it made a huge difference in my riding.
“Luck is for losers” is currently on Nadieh’s helmet at the North West 200. The girl is so determined! Good luck Nadieh!